ST 3081 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 3081 (Hints)

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 3081 (Hints)

Hints and tips by Senf

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

A very good Sunday morning from Winnipeg, where, Monday to Wednesday, we had three glorious days of Tee-shirts, Shorts, and Flip-flops weather with high temperatures of 18 degrees, instead of a seasonal 2 degrees!

Keep staying safe everyone. 

By Dada standards, once I got going, I found this reasonably straightforward although I did have at least a couple of Hmms.  I counted seven anagrams (one partial), two lurkers, and no homophones – all in a symmetric 32 clues, with 16 hints ‘sprinkled’ throughout the grid you should be able to get the checkers to enable the solving of the unhinted clues.

Candidates for favourite – 13a, 2d, 11d, and 23d.

As is usual for the weekend prize crosswords, a number of the more difficult clues have been selected and hints provided for them.

Don’t forget to follow BD’s instructions in red at the bottom of the hints!

Most of the terms used in these hints are explained in the Glossary and examples are available by clicking on the entry under “See also”. Where the hint describes a construct as “usual” this means that more help can be found in The Usual Suspects, which gives a number of the elements commonly used in the wordplay. Another useful page is Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, which features words with meanings that are not always immediately obvious.

A full review of this puzzle will be published after the closing date for submissions.

Some hints follow:


1a Building work I check inside arena (8)
I from the clue and a three letter synonym for check all placed inside a type of arena (that might be associated with a circus, when we had them).

9a Boater at once is fashionable (8)
An anagram (fashionable) of AT ONCE IS.

13a Crystal: good in possession of pirate? (3,5)
The single letter for good placed inside (in) something a pirate might own (possession of).

15a Layer of eggs on cheese for a moment (7)
A layer of eggs, but not the usual one, placed after (on) a type of cheese.

20a A cat bit (4)
Included because it is sometimes contentious – A from the clue and a (male) cat.

28a Being gone for ages, call father back (6)
Definitely one of my Hmms – a synonym of call and a two letter synonym of father all reversed.

29a Greek god, model with sculpture of Odin (8)
A verbal synonym of model and (with) an anagram (sculpture) of ODIN.

31a Wisest of the wise perhaps receiving first of awards, in act of generosity (8)
Even with the perhaps in the clue, another Hmm – a synonym (perhaps) of wisest and an avian reputed to be wise containing (receiving) the initial letter (first) of Awards.


1d Log on string (6)
The well-known two letter synonym of on and a type of string.

2d Go like a commercial vehicle? (6)
A type of commercial vehicle with a three letter suffix that can mean like a, or as the BRB puts it – a suffix “forming adjectives signifying somewhat.”

4d Bouquet held by soprano serenely (4)
One of the lurkers (held by) found in the remaining words of the clue – the other lurker, not hinted by me, is 30a.

7d Broke, as I spend a lot (2,6)
An anagram (broke) of AS I SPEND.

8d Perfect life initially occupying dirty home — really? (8)
A verbal synonym of perfect followed by the first letter (initially) of Life inserted into (occupying) a three letter term for a dirty home.

17d Difficult second book (8)
A synonym of difficult and a verbal synonym of second.


22d Run through with stake, I look anaemic! (6)
Written as (1’1,4) a phrase equivalent to I look anaemic.

27d Nothing, like a lot (4)
A double definition to finish – the first is nothing in a racquet game.

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For Remembrance Sunday:


68 comments on “ST 3081 (Hints)

  1. I found this more than a little tricky. The misdirection in 4d set me off on the wrong answer (very cunning!) This gave me problems with 1a, until the penny dropped about 4d. So it was 3.5*/3.5* for me. There was, however, a lot to enjoy. 31a made me laugh and 9a was very clever. So thanks to Senf for the review and to Dada for another fascinating and absorbing crossword.

  2. This took a bit of thought so ***/*** 28a took me ages and I wasn’t convinced I had the right answer until I looked at the hints. It gets a hmm from me too. 15a wasn’t what I was expecting but it’s a good clue as are 1a and 8d. Favourite is 31a because it made me smile. Thanks to all.

  3. Just as Senf has said, once I got going, it slowly fell into place. I did have to take a couple of time-outs, taking me into ***/**** territory, but I got there in the end, the SE being the last to fall.

    2d, for its childish simplicity, gets my vote for COTD.

    Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  4. Invariably a few hmms for me in a Dada puzzle, today those concerned 5,28&30a.
    31a made me chuckle – or should I say ‘hoot’ – and my favourite was the straightforward 17d.

    Thanks to Dada and to Senf for the hints and the always tear-jerking reminder of the brave who gave their lives for us.

  5. Tougher end of the Dada spectrum for me. Could do without so many head scratches at the minute. They took me well into *** time.
    Best of the numerous good clues was 8d, closely followed by my LOI 28a took me too long to see the misdirection.
    Thanks to Dada & Senf. The neighbours are having fun. Seeing POTUS played golf made me think perhaps he will take a mulligan on the election & order a re-run!!

    1. We’re going to get two first dogs again in the White House! Shepherds, I think you call them Alsatians, but great news after our present dog hater.

  6. Very tricky. I was ‘hmming’ quite a bit, largely in the same places as Jane.

    Today I’m thinking of my late father who had somewhat of a torrid time of it during the Second World War; and, of course, giving thanks to all who fought to ensure we may enjoy the freedom we do today.

    Thanks to Dada and Senf.

  7. That’s more like it, so much easier than what was for me yesterdays horror. Some very clever clues although I agree a couple of the synonyms were very weak.
    I really enjoyed this one.
    Thx to all

  8. Not too hard but I did need a hint for the clever 27d. Once I’d got the bits in the right order, I liked 15a. .I hink my COTD is 28 as it took me a while to suss it out.

  9. Like one or two others, I found this at the tough end of Dada’s spectrum and I think quite a few of my hairs were lost during the head scratching. it took a long time for me to limp across the finish line and I had to succumb to seeking a bit of help from Mr. G. – not a thing I like to do. Still, there were many good clues and I liked 10a, 15a and 29a. My COTD is 13a although I suspect it is an old chestnut.

    Many thanks to Dada for the puzzle and Senf for the hints.

    My father, Ted was a radio officer in the Merchant Navy and sailed on the convoys. He lost many friends and, in their memory, he would drink a tot of rum at 11 o’clock. He couldn’t stand rum and always pulled a face after he had finished. When I asked him why he drank it if he hated it, he told me a few seconds of a bad taste came nowhere near to what his friends had suffered.

    We are also remembering Mrs. C’s Grandfather who was killed in the trenches. We still have the letters he sent to my father-in-law.

    1. My late father-in-law, who was in the Rifle Brigade, was captured by the Germans in Italy and sent to a German prison camp by train, through the Alps. The allies bombed the railway at either end of the tunnel , with the train inside. The prisoners were in the dark with no food and water for 3 days. With a week to go on the reserve list, having left the army in 1945, in 1950, he was called up for the Korean War. His battalion of the Royal Ulster Rifles was all but wiped out. He survived because he was hospitalised with leg problem. It makes one feel guilty to whinge about the privations of lockdown. Here’s to Henry, my dad who spent his war in the Far East and my grandfather, a Royal Engineer, who survived being gassed at Ypres.

      1. Yes, I was thinking of my father in the 17/21st Lancers, a tank regiment, Nothing was going to stop me hobbling down the drive to stand near The Cross for a moment’s silence. There were about thirty of us standing well spaced out, and I guess we shall do it again on Wednesday. Daddy was in North Africa and up through Italy via Monte Casino but he always deeply admired those who served in the Far East.
        So very long ago now.

        1. Monte Casino was appalling, deep respect Daisygirl.
          My grandad fought at Passchendaele, lived to a ripe old age, but could never talk about it. Only thing he ever said was how many of his pals he lost from his regiment, The Royal Sussex.

          1. My father talked little about what he went through. He did tell me he witnessed the German battleship the Graf Spee blowing itself up on the River Plate. He also told me the tale of the Jervis Bay, the heroism of which can be found here.

            The Heroic Death of the HMS Jervis Bay

            He wrote two accounts of life on the convoys and I have them still. I must get them copied before they disintegrate.

  10. Well I got there in the end but not a lot of fun here. For me, I think Dada has been at the 3d a bit too much.
    I did have a bit of a schoolboy titter at the 4d 14d combo and wondered if Dada’s dog was being a bad dog under the setters table!
    Others seemed to 27d it so maybe I am just a bit 5a today.
    Thanks to Senf and setter
    Just watched the Cenotaph service with a lovely Elgar’s Nimrod ( has anyone other than Dutch used the phrase “Lovely Elgar” on a crossword blog?)

  11. Spending the weekend with Dada is always a pleasure.
    Managed to complete and parse every clue in his alphabetical in the Guardian and finished today’s offering without delay.
    I sincerely recommend to have a go at these jigsaws as you have to tease every answer without any checking letters. A great exercise.
    3d appeared in both if you need a foothold.
    Thanks to Dada for all the fun and to Senf for the hints.

      1. Yeah, it seems their technology isn’t up to jigsaws, but they do provide a PDF link — which is superior to the version in yesterday’s paper, because it includes the length for the S clue!

  12. A bit of head scratching for me today. Last in 27d, so flipping obvious. Had a problem with 28a, wanted to put father in the wrong place. My slow cooked pheasants in red wine last night were delish! I wonder how many people will reply to the letter in the DT re Thursday’s puzzle. Stumped me too. Thanks to Dada and Senf on this lovely autumn day.

    1. I think it would be lovely if one of the ‘head honchos’ on the blog sent a reply to the DT. I wonder how many people don’t know about the blog and would absolutely love it.

    2. Well, if we all sent in a response to the letter they would surely publish one or two.

      1. Go on then. I no longer have the paper with the letter in it otherwise I’d be tempted but I’d much prefer it if someone else did.

  13. 3*/3.5*. I enjoyed almost all of this puzzle, which fell into two halves for me in terms of difficulty. I found the bottom half straightforward but struggled with the top half, particularly the NE corner.

    I wasn’t at all keen on 28a & 30a but was happy with everything else. 31a was my favourite.

    Many thanks to Dada and to Senf.

  14. One of Dada’s trickier offerings I thought. 28a and 2d were definite eyebrow-raisers, but they were offset by some thoughtful clueing, such as 17d and 1d. My personal enjoyment was taken down a notch not by the time taken, but by the occasional clunky clues.

    Thanks to Dada for the challenge and to Senf.

  15. Phew! Uphill all the way but nearly all solutions were very satisfying so a top end *** for me with a happiness factor of ****.

  16. I think the Tramadol I’m currently taking for rather painful bruised ribs must have addled my brain because I found this very difficult. The NW was the main issue where other than 4d I just couldn’t see an answer until after an embarrassingly long time I got the 9a anagram & they fell like dominos. No real favourites today & quite agree that there were a couple of hmms but still satisfying to have finally finished it.
    Thanks to Dada & to Senf

      1. I’m sorry to hear that, Hoofs. The problem is Tramadol is an opioid, as is codeine, and is addictive. They don’t tell you that when it is prescribed.

        I hope your step daughter is okay now.

  17. This was far from being a barrowload of laughs but that is often the case for me with Dada whom I do find rather sombre. Perhaps I was just looking for a bit of light relief after a morning of saturation from virtual Acts of Remembrance services both locally and from the Cenotaph. South more manageable than the North. To quibble a bit – I’m not sure about 16a or 28a. Held up on 21a as I went for wrong photograph. Thank you Dada. And Senf.

  18. So henedam is not a word then?😂
    I did this in a very strange way. First the SW corner which just fell in easily. Then the NE corner. Form these the SE filled itself in.

    The NW was blank and may as well have been in Chinese for all the luck I was having.
    It took me twice as long to do that as the rest of the puzzle with electronic help and hints.
    However I love Dada puzzles so can’t complain.
    Thanks to Dada and Senf
    13a and 28a were firm favourites.

  19. I didn’t find this one a lot of fun, but got through it. I had question marks against 5a and 28a. Still, I wouldn’t want to try setting a crossword. Thanks to Dada and to Senf, and to all those who served our country and are still serving on this Remembrance Sunday.

  20. I loved this crossword even though I took a while to get started in my usual top left corner then suddenly it fell into place and was plainish sailing. Difficult to pick a favourite but I like 5 across

  21. Thanks to Dad and Senf, but this is definitely above my pay grade today. Have to be content with 10 solved so far. Could have done with something easier to take my mind off the looming storm which is a tad too close for comfort. I’ll save it for later. Youngest daughter, only 20 miles south of us is already under a Hurricane Watch, and Merusa is further south than her, so hope she is faring well. We’re not supposed to get the really strong winds until this evening, but already had one brief power outage.

    1. We are getting intermittent squalls with very powerful winds, but not very often. Godson is leaving Jamaica to come here later so I hope he can land. Oops, here comes another band. I quite like the trees being bent over like that!

  22. I’m with Brian on this one as I found this pretty straightforward. Maybe something to do with the absence of alcohol as have to drive later. Favourite was 7d as I missed the anagram indicator for a while. Many thanks to Dada and Senf.

  23. Started in the NE corner then SW and the SE, finally finishing with 1a. Thought I was very clever until I read the review and realised without looking at the hint that I had 27d wrong. That’ll teach me not to be smug. Fairly easy, no complaints about the clueing. Enjoyable too. I must have relaxed into this after a frustrating time finishing off some decorating and trying to fit a new identical blind in the place of an old one. The fittings were slightly different and I didn’t want to redrill the wall. Solution, after much trial and error use the old fittings with a bit of bodging. Success.

  24. Funny old world, isn’t it? Here we are, each of us no doubt with personal anxieties, heartaches and headaches yet we are brought together on this page by the clues in a crossword puzzle. I think that is amazing, we are able to cut out everything else and fix our minds on 1a and 2d. I love it. Many thanks to the setter and Senf.

    1. Well said DG, I completely agree. Some friends are aghast when they hear I follow a blog EVERY day without fail. They think blogs are just for young people, how wrong they are. So a HUGE thank you to Big Dave who has made all this possible.

      1. And a bjmig thank you from me too. This blog has a wonderful way of getting you to focus on other things apart from your own probems.

  25. Found this Dada puzzle much more tricky and quirky than his past few offerings. Agree with Senf on a couple of the hmm’s for the clue and corresponding answer. More of a ***/*** for me today as well over my normal time.
    Clues for favourites include 10a, 20a, 8d, 11d & 23d. My winner is 23d with 11d close runner up

    Thanks to Dada & Senf

    Sad to hear Alex Trebek died early this morning … will miss him on Jeopardy

    1. I read that this morning, he was a great host. God speed. Will Ken Jennings take over do you think?

    2. Yes so sad about Alex Trebek. We have been watching him every night for 37 Seasons of Jeopardy, so it’s like losing a friend.

  26. I’m in agreement with Brian (which in itself is a worry) in that this was much easier than yesterday.
    Not over fond of 28a, a more sensible definition may have been in order.
    I must remember the ‘check’ in 1a,
    Well done America, maybe the world has not gone barmy after all.
    Thanks Senf and Dada

  27. I really enjoyed this, ending up with 8 marked as possible favourites, including 22d’s looking anaemic and 31a’s wisest of the wise. I’ll go for 17d’s elegant “Difficult second book” as my top for today. Thanks, Dada.

    And thank you, Senf: I needed a few clues today, but there wouldn’t be any point in your writing them if everybody could solve without them. And I’d rather a crossword with fun clues I need a bit of help with than a plain one I finish unaided.

  28. As usual, Dada being tricky for me. I completed the West but only have a smattering in the East. Nothing can dampen my euphoria, I’m on air!
    I liked 15a and 27d of the ones I solved.
    Thanks to Dada and to Senf, I’ll check my missing answers when the review comes out.

  29. A very difficult Dada today which took a long time after coming in from the garden at dusk and getting the evening meal ready. Liked 10a but there was too much hard work to give enjoyment, especially with the cold feet I brought in from the garden.

    Thanks to Dada and Senf. Without the hints it would have been a very sad grid.

  30. I loved this one, probably because, for a Dada, I didn’t find it too much of a little piglet.
    I don’t ‘do’ Hmms, but even if did, I wouldn’t have had any today.
    My last answer was 28a.
    Lots of really good and amusing clues so probably too many to mention.
    I’ll just have a quick go at picking some out – 10, 15 and 31a and 19d. My favourite was either 5a or 2d – I’m such a sucker for this kind of answer – they never fail to make me laugh which is always good but particularly at the moment.
    Thanks to Dada and to Senf.

  31. On a first read through, I thought I was done for on this one but, like others, with a bit of head scratching it gradually fell into place. I wondered if Dada had been listening to ‘I’m sorry I haven’t a clue’ as 2d and 5a could have been straight out of the Uxbridge English Dictionary round! 30a made me chuckle. Thanks to Senf for the hints and Dada for another enjoyable puzzle.

  32. Close to agreeing with Brian. I found this on the easier end of Dada. Worked steadily through with no assistance. I was left with two which puzzled me – 21a and 28a. Upon my return 28a came to me but I had to write it down to work it out. I was looking for a venue in 21a and thought I would have to resort to help. On reflection the first word was obvious and I was there! Favourites 13 15 and 28a and 11 and 17d. Thanks Dada and Senf. Always enjoy reading the hints and especially the comments.

  33. I quite enjoyed today’s Dada, with its tricky but doable shenanigans. Favourites: 1a, 15a, 28a, with 31a my COTD. Very nice to be back doing the puzzles and joining all of you. Stay safe, Merusa, as well as the rest of you. *** / ****. Thanks to Senf and Dada.

  34. I really struggled to get to grips with this Dada puzzle, in fact it took me until this morning to finally complete it – albeit with more electronic help than I would have wished. Not my cup of tea this one I’m afraid. Thanks anyway to Dada for the challenge – this time you win :-) and thanks to Senf too.

  35. Late getting round to this one. Looked difficult on first pass through but yielded in the end to steady application. Brian likes Dada! Wonders will never cease. Favorites 15 and 20 across.

  36. Found this one a bit of a head scratcher but got it done without clues apart from 30 across which did not have a clue. I have two possible answers but as it has not been a problem for everyone else I assume I am missing something rather obvious. I’ll keep scratching. Favourites 14d, 27d and it took me a while to recognise the type of clue for 14d but kicked myself when I did. ***/****. Thank you Dada and Senf.

    1. Senf didn’t provide a hint for 30a because, as Miffypops often says, “if in doubt, look for a lurker”

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